June 14 is Flag Day. The design of our national flag was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777, and the United States flag became known affectionately as “Old Glory.”

The number of stars has increased with the addition of each state. When Missouri was added as a state to the Union, the United States flag was redesigned with 24 stars.

In 1831, Salem shipmaster Capt. William Driver was gifted with a brilliant 24-star flag. As Driver watched the new flag unfurl in the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed, “Old Glory!”

With such enthusiasm, the ancient mariner coined the nickname for our national flag. Upon retirement, Driver settled in Nashville, Tennessee, and proudly displayed his Old Glory.

When the Civil War broke out, rebels were determined to destroy the popular symbol of the Union. Old Glory was the subject of a massive search, but the famous flag could not be found.

When Union forces captured Nashville in 1862, Driver, under the protection of U.S. soldiers, ripped open the seams of a quilt covering his bed and revealed the original Old Glory, concealed in the batting. The 6th Ohio Regiment adopted the nickname “Old Glory” and repeatedly told its story, committing the flag’s title to posterity.

The tale of Old Glory reveals the significance of a devotion to our flag. It also tells us about the quality of materials used to make historic flags.

Old Glory was flown at sea for decades, then at Driver’s home, and finally over the state capitol at Nashville. It was passed down in Driver’s family and ultimately given to the Smithsonian.

This makes us wonder about the tattered flags that are only a few years old, sometimes seen flying today. The quality of materials is a factor, so adherence to a strict code of respect is necessary for flag maintenance.

These days, the public receives less education about federal flag use laws that protect our national flag. The flag is only to be flown from sun up to sun down—not overnight.

According to law, those who honor our country by flying the flag should ceremoniously raise it each morning and lower it each evening.

For convenience, many folks neglect the arduous task of daily raising and lowering the flag. Those who want to fly the flag have accompanying responsibilities.

When there is a reason to fly a flag after dark, it must be illuminated. The flag is never to be flown during a threat of inclement weather. As a sign of respect and for preservation, the flag needs attentiveness.

Interestingly, a principal from Spain at St. Joseph’s School years ago taught many students to respect the flag. Her family had suffered oppression, so she knew the importance of freedom the flag represented.

The sister insisted that only a flag in pristine condition may be displayed, so she inspected the school’s flag regularly. Despite the school’s strict budget, it prioritized a new flag when needed.

I hope former students, now adults, feel woe when they see a tattered flag flapping in a storm. Maybe they are flying Old Glory with attentiveness.

According to the federal code, a worn flag that “is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display should be destroyed in a dignified way,” preferably by ceremonial burning.

Maybe, locals will be inspired by tales of Old Glory and might commit to the time-honored flag-flying tradition.

Janet Miller’s e-book, “Family Prayers and Activities: Weekly Guides,” is for families or prayer groups. Janet is the creator of “Friends on the Way,” an e-resource for churches to teach families about the Bible and discipleship. Find it at www.TeamRCIA.com.

Janet Miller

Janet Miller is a freelance writer specializing in family faith. She offers Family Prayers and Activities: Weekly Guides on compact disc for families to explore the Bible together. Email jmiller@dospalos.org.